Home > Auctions worldwide >Part II Glass/hali sotheby sale review
Sun, Feb 9th, 2014 06:28:35 AM
Topic: Part II Glass/hali sotheby sale review

There are a number of others bones RK could pick with Ms Glass concerning her happy-face review of the sotheby sale and we thought it pointful to get them on record.

First is this myopic statement "Traditionally dominant Middle Eastern buyers were surprisingly focused and reserved in their acquisitions."

Sorry, Ms Glass, but please do tell us, and your audience, when any rug-auction was "dominated" by Middle Eastern buyers?

While RK recognizes it is true those buyers have deep pockets, can and do frequently compete above the 100,000 dollar level for very specialized types of carpets, fact is nothing was good enough in this sale to interest them en mass.

But even were there a few classical period Persian or Ottoman pieces for them to purchase, those few might be dollar-wise "dominant. But any real measure of dominance would be in number of lots purchased.

However, since those Middle Eastern buyers are not interested in Turkmen, Anatolian and Caucasian rugs, or in large 'decorative' 19th century ones, that dominance balloon Glass has tried to float is surely only another imaginary figment of her story-telling style of sale review.

Glass then said As with recent auctions, the top six lots were all Classical pieces dating from 1800 or earlier, with the strong prices of yesteryear commanded by 19th century Caucasian and Persian rugs and large scale decorative carpets, but a distant memory.

From this oblique reference to Classical pieces ms Glass makes it clear all her time working in sothebys carpet department in London was in vain and actually she learned little.

First off that term commonly refers to only Persian/Safavid and Turkish/Ottoman Court weavings, RK has never seen anyone, who is worth reading, use it in any other context.

Secondly examining the top six lots, prices realized-wise, shows the following:
1. $365,000 lot 143 Safavid fragment
1. $365,000 lot 93 Safavid Salting prayer rug
2. $233,000 lot 56 eagle Kazak
3. $221,000 lot 92 Northwest Persian fragment
4. $125,000 lot 120 Anatolian village rug
5. $112,500 lot 1 Azerbiajan embroidery
5. $112,500 lot 121 Safavid medallion carpet
6. $100,000 lot 82 Tekke animal tree asmalyk

So what does this reality check show?

Yes, the number one highest price achieved, was in fact shared by two classical Persian/Safavid weavings lots 93 and 143.

But number two, lot 56 on the list, is a peasant (and RK using this terms jokingly) eagle Kazak that was made far from the workshops that produced any actual classical weavings.

Number three, lot 92 a healthy chunk of a beautiful NWPersian carpet, was definitely made in a workshop. But that workshop was not in any sense connected to those of the Safavid and Ottoman Courts credited with producing any weaving properly designated as Classical.

Coming in at fourth place was Lot 120, the runt of the litter Anatolian village rug.

It, likewise, was made in a town not a village workshop but would be called Classical by no one who, as we wrote before, is worth reading.

Fifth place on the list is shared by lots 1 and 121, only one of which lot 121, the worn-out Safavid medallion carpet, could be rightly called Classical.

The other, lot 1 the best of the Azarbiajan embroideries, was made in a workshop, too, but most probably an Armenian one located in the Caucasus region nowhere near any controlled by the Courts of the Safavid or Ottoman.

And sixth on the list, lot 82 the Tekke animal-tree asmalyk, was not only not made in a Court workshop but it is the only one on this top six list which was not made in any workshop.

Clearly, the above shows Ms Glasss comment to be fantasy-land and far from factual.

Just for grins here are the next four highest selling lots to make a top ten list.
7. $93,750 lot 78 Salor LFT trapping
8. $87,500 lot 2 Azerbiajan embroidery
9. $81,250 lot 221 star Kazak
10. $68,750 lot 60 Tekke embroidered asmalyk

And here Glasss comment is proven even more incorrect, as not one of the four can be called Classical.

And just a quick sentence about the second half of her quoted statement with the strong prices of yesteryear commanded by 19th century Caucasian and Persian rugs and large scale decorative carpets, but a distant memory.

Sorry ms Glass but RK and anyone else who is in the loop knows the reasons for the decidedly poor showing most of these rug made is not a distant memory but one caused by a number of timely factors.

The main one being the glut of this type of material in dealer inventories. Plus the fact hardly any of those in the sale were superior enough to rally the troops to bid aggressively, and competitively, for them.

Had some real gems appeared, and not just ones of the good level sothebys tried to move, RK is sure they would have preformed admirably.

Heres another instance of Glass trying to put reality aside and rewrite it:

The exceptional collection of seventeen Azerbaijan embroideries from the Eugene Chesrow Collection in Chicago, performed solidly with sixteen selling in the room and lot 4 selling post auction. Despite lots 1 and 2 making it onto the top ten list at $112,500 and $87,500 respectively, ten of the embroideries sold below estimate and the collection did not perform as well as many had expected.

Had the collection of embroideries really been exceptional they would not have failed to perform as well as many expected.

This is easily understand; well at least by anyone who is an honest and highly qualified reviewer.

Then Ms Glass tells readers Despite being an older collection, the eight early Turkish rugs from the collection of the late Ambassador Burton Yost Berry fared abysmally. None of the higher priced Transylvanians found buyers, possibly due to them having been offered for sale to the trade prior to consignment to Sothebys, so they were not quite as fresh to the market as they may have appeared.

Facts are the the eight early Turkish rugs from the collection of the late Ambassador Burton Yost Berry fared abysmally simply because the rug-market for such pieces has gone far past the often ill-founded enthusiasm old time collectors, like Yost, invested in these mostly early 19th century (at best) examples.

Yost should have unloaded his collection 10 years ago when numerous buyers still existed for this type of merch.

Of those Yost consigned the best of the bunch was the plain field, indented mirhab, Ladik prayer rug lot 24, which sold for $31,500. As it was the best, there is no surprise why it preformed, now is there?

Plus had the others Glass is speaking about been as good or better, they also would have found buyers regardless of their having been offered privately prior to the auction.

Such a situation is not the kiss of death for an auction lot if it is good enough and early enough.

But regrettably for Yost his pieces were not of a high enough caliber and this, not their previous offers, stifled their action on sale day.

Analysis like this is rug 101, and Glasss failure to speak truth, or is it know what that is and rather spiel imaginary tinker-bell frosting, makes mockery of her credentials as a reviewer or expert.

Glass writes The large consignment of Kazaks and Turkmen weavings consigned by a well-known Asian Private Collector fulfilled most expectations..

And who might those mosts be?

Surely not the consignor, Ben Fernandas, who lost a pile of dough regardless of the eagle Kazak and Tekke animal-tree asmalyk doing well.

And for the record books from what we have heard Fernandas paid a bit more than $100,000 for the asmalyk a number of years ago. So forget any success there.

Another interesting bit of gossip concerns The three Tekke embroidered asmalyks, lots 60-62, and the superb Tekke animal-tree asmalyk, lot 82, were all purchased by a leading Middle Eastern museum.

That leading Middle Eastern Museum is none other than the IMA in Doha, Qatar who are, and have been for many years, relying on michael franses to guide their ship through the difficult waters of antique rug collecting.

RK might suggest the IMA get a second opinion before spending their money on fransess choices, as the two with the cute little horses and figures that RK has already written about are less than museum quality in our expert opinion.

Only the third they bagged, lot 61 that also was the least expensive, is museum worthy.

And considering the one offered at the last rippon-boswell sale was arguably better, and it sold for quite a bit less, makes you wonder why the museum did not compete for that one?

In addition the Fernandas Tekke animal tree asmalyk is far from a best of type, nor is it in RK opinion museum worthy. It is a good example but its flaws and shortcomings are easily deduced when compared to the best examples of this type.

RK has already trampled with voluminous documented evidence any reputation mr. michael franses and his supporters believe he carries when it comes to expert knowledge of early Turkmen and Anatolian weavings.

Frankly speaking franses should stick to the far more easily understood and by now well studied Safavid and Ottoman classical rugs and leave the heavy lifting in these two other areas to others.

Thirty years ago franses was in the vanguard but now he has been left in the dust when it comes to the fine points of Turkmen and Anatolian Village weavings.

OK, enough about franses and back to ms Judith Glass.

RK will resist comments about the Milanese dealer, aka moshe tabibnia, who purchases Glass mentions.

But we will say a few more words about Exceptional provenance and excellent condition that belied its considerable age drove the bidding for lot 120, the ex-Ballard central (?) Anatolian rug, purchased by an eager European dealer for $125,000.

Considerable age? Please now ms Glass get a grip.

This pseudo-village rug might be considered thus only in comparison to the new, fake, doormat quality rugs ones sees in the Sultan Ahmed rug souk in Istanbul. Actually, in comparison to a real Anatolian Village rug of considerable age, lot 120 could not lick its boots, let alone elicit such an opinion.

And by the way it was only the Ballard name that carried this rug above the $50-60,000 rug for fido to nap on level.

And while RK does not know for sure wed be glad to bet our famous doughnut holes to dollars the reason the Bargain of the day may well have been lot 161, a graphic Yarkand carpet from the Robert Hendrikson Collection was several possible bidders agreed to buy it in combination.

And her follow through statement of it being one of a group that continues to command significant sums in the retail market. rings hollow, for were it true even the combination would have had substantial competition from other bidders.

The fact this Yarkand failed to even sell close to the price it brought 11 years ago says a lot about the thinning of the rug-market, and the present concentration for weavings that are really exceptional, and in good original condition, or ones that are genuine masterpieces, pre-18th century and earlier, in any condition except overly/poorly restored.

Since that rag hali and its companion website lack any real rug-brain to correctly write reviews they are left with relying on second-stringers like Ms Glass, who might be able to scribble words to wow novice collectors and rug-ignorant general public.

However, when it comes to impressing those, who have decades studying and collecting, there is little chance the words they publish will do anything but show the decline in standards that rag halis reportage has suffered.

And after seeing a copy of the new issue we must say the decline of the quality of paper that rag hali is printed on equals the decline in quality of the words printed on it.

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